NewEnergyNews: 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Value Of Transportation Elecrification
  • QUICK NEWS, December 12: The “Fight-Climate-Change” Diet; Market For Advanced EV Batteries To Quadruple By 2026; The Low Lifecycle Costs In New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: How The New Energy Marketplace Is Growing And Shifting
  • QUICK NEWS, December 11: N.C. Millennial Women Unite For Climate Fight; The White House Threat To New Energy; What’s Bad News In The Tax Bill For New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Tesla Adds World’s Biggest Battery To Aussie Wind
  • Weekend Video: Solar And The Next Utilities
  • Weekend Video: Wind Builders On Wind
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Gourmet
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-UK Study Says Yes To Solar-Powered Electric Trains
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-First Aussie Ocean Wind Project Gets $8BIL Funding
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU Solar Goes Digital To Open New Services
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, December 7:

  • TTTA Thursday-City Mayors Unite To Fight Climate Change
  • TTTA Thursday-New Energy And Big Oil Unite Against Subsidies For Coal And Nuclear
  • TTTA Thursday-California Would Sell Only EVs After 2040
  • TTTA Thursday-Utilities In A Time Of Solar
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, December 13:

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How California Is Easing Off NatGas With New Energy
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Illinois cloud computing debate could open utility rate reform

    Friday, January 31, 2014

    THE HUMAN IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    Climate Change Is Already Causing Mass Human Migration; When temperatures are high, Pakistani men are 11 times more likely to move out of town

    Colin Scvhultz, January 29, 2014 (Smithsonian)

    “…Climate change is already inducing marine animals to migrate, and according to [Heat stress increases long-term human migration in rural Pakistan], it's starting to make people move, too…For the past 21 years, researchers have been studying the migration patterns of people in Pakistan…[The scientists] measured the relationship between Pakistanis' movements and changes in a handful of environmental variables…[They] found that even though Pakistan is prone to extreme floods…flooding in general has little effect on where people chose to live long-term…Instead, they found, high temperatures, particularly during the spring and winter farming season, were the dominant driver of mass migration. It's not that it suddenly became too hot for people to live. But as temperature and weather patterns change, previously productive ground may become uneconomical to work…[and] Pakistani men to pack up and leave for greener pastures…[The exodus] sends a rippling shock through the rest of the economy… click here for more

    A MAP TO TWICE THE NEW ENERGY IN 2030

    A Path to Doubling Global Renewable Energy (REMAP 2030)

    January 2014 (International Renewable Energy Agency)

    REMAP 2030 is IRENA’s global roadmap to identify policies and actions required to double the share of renewable energy by 2030…IRENA’s initial analysis suggests that increasing the share of Renewable Energy to 30% of the global energy mix is achievable…[I]f progress continues at the current pace, RE will account for 21% of the global energy mix in 2030…This presents a significant challenge…REMAP will recommend action at the regional and interregional levels and in electricity generation, industry, buildings, and transport for their own countries. REMAP 2030 will be a live document that will be monitored and updated…” click here for more

    DOMINANT CHINESE SOLAR PV MAKERS EMERGE

    Yingli and Trina Grab 15% of Solar PV Industry in Q4’13...Market leaders shipped a total of 5.8 GW in 2013; both are targeting 1 GW of quarterly PV shipments

    January 24, 2014 (SolarBuzz)

    “Leading Chinese solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers Yingli Green Energy and Trina Solar have emerged as the clear market leaders within the solar PV industry, shipping more than 5.8 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV modules in 2013. During the last six quarters, Yingli and Trina increased total market share from 12% in Q2’12 to nearly 15% at the end of Q4’13…The top 20 leading solar PV suppliers shipped a new record level of modules in Q4’13 of 7.6 GW, marking the first time that the top 20 suppliers have broken through the 7 GW barrier. The Q4’13 shipment volume from the top 20 companies grew by 9% M/M and 44% Y/Y. The top 20 PV manufacturers now supply 68% of the global solar PV industry…Yingli and Trina have now increased their combined trailing-twelve-month (ttm) shipment volume, from 2.4 GW at the end of Q2’12, to 5.8 GW at the end of Q4’13. The 62% increase in shipments in just 18 months is a key factor behind the companies’ combined market share gains.” click here for more

    THE SOLAR BOOM IN INDIA

    India Almost Doubled Its Solar Power In 2013 With Big Plans For More

    Ari Phillips, January 21, 2014 (ThinkProgress)

    “India added just over 1 gigawatt of solar energy to its electrical grid last year, a major milestone that nearly doubles the country’s cumulative solar energy capacity to 2.18 gigawatts. After a slow start to the year, solar installation picked up rapidly — a good sign that India will be able to meet its ambitious solar targets going forward. India hopes to install 10 GW of solar by 2017 and 20 GW by 2022…India is currently in the planning stages of building the world’s largest solar plant, which would generate 4 gigawatts in the northwestern state of Rajasthan…In a further indication that renewable energy has a large role to play in India’s future, last year the largest coal company in the world, Coal India, starting pursuing commercial solar power plants to cut costs…” click here for more

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    HOUSE REPUBS VOTE TO DENY CLIMATE CHANGE

    24 House Republicans Just Voted To Deny The Reality Of Climate Change

    Katie Valentine, January 28, 2014 (ClimateProgress)

    “The House Energy and Commerce Committee…voted 24-20 [against an amendment to a bill]…which would have placed on the record that the committee accepts that climate change is happening and is caused by greenhouse gas pollution…[The bill] would put an end to EPA regulations on emissions for new power plants until technologies like carbon capture and storage are commercially viable in at least six states for one year. It passed [in committee]…Twenty-four E&C members — all Republicans — voted against the amendment…[T]he Republicans who voted to deny climate change have accepted about $9.3 million in career contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries…Ninety-seven percent of scientific studies that take a stance on climate change agree that human activity is causing climate change…” click here for more

    OFFSHORE WIND IS ONE OF CNN’S ‘COOLEST’ TECHNOLOGIES

    The coolest things technology has up its sleeve in 2014; Wind power blows stronger

    Arion McNicoll, January 15, 2014 (CNN)

    “As scientists look to find alternatives to traditional fossil fuels, a number of major projects, including Cape Wind (in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound) and Deepwater Wind (near Block Island, Rhode Island), are vying to become the first offshore windfarm in the U.S…Alongside power from volcanoes, waves, biomass and the sun, wind power is set to become a significant alternative energy source in 2014…” click here for more

    ROOFTOP SOLAR INCREASES HOME RESALE PRICE

    Solar Power Adds A Premium To A Home's Resale Value

    Nora Caley, January 16, 2014 (Solar Industry)

    "…New research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory indicates that a rooftop photovoltaic system can…increase a house's price, and researchers were able to quantify how much of a premium solar can command…[A]ppraisers and other real estate industry professionals often assign no value to a home's PV systems. Tools such as the PV Value spreadsheet from Sandia National Laboratories and Energy Sense Finance are available to mortgage professionals but are not widely used…[Exploring California PV Home Premiums] examined 1,894 PV homes sold in California from 2000 through 2009 and compared them to 70,425 non-PV homes sold over the same period and in the same neighborhoods as the PV homes. The researchers made sure that other factors did not affect the sales prices [and found each] 1 kW increase in [PV system size] equated to a $5,911 higher premium, but each year a system aged equated to a $2,411 lower premium…” click here for more

    THE ‘GREENEST' CARS OF 2013

    …Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Tops Greenest Vehicles List

    January 28, 2014 (GreenCars.org at American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy)

    …"[T]he Smart ForTwo Electric Drive tops the ‘Greenest’ list with a highest-ever score of 59 out of 100, just in time for the vehicle’s nationwide rollout. Following closely behind are the Toyota Prius C and the Nissan Leaf with scores of 57 and 55 respectively…Toyota’s entire family of Priuses performs exceedingly well again this year, with the regular Prius and the Prius plug-in hybrid nabbing spots #4 and #7. Other top scorers for 2014 include the Honda Civic Hybrid (#5), Lexus CT 200H (#6), Honda Insight (#10), and the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (#12). Making its return to the ‘Greenest’ list after an absence last year is the Honda Civic Natural Gas vehicle (#9)…New to the list this year is the Mitsubishi Mirage…[w]ith a Green Score of 55…[in] the 8th spot…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: TV NETWORK NEWS CLIMATE COVERAGE STILL DOWN

    STUDY: How Broadcast News Covered Climate Change In The Last Five Years

    January 16, 2014 (Media Matters)

    A Media Matters analysis reveals that news coverage of climate change on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX picked up in 2013 over the previous year, but remained lower than a 2009 high. Furthermore, while one Sunday show interviewed scientists about climate change, distinguishing itself as the first such program to do so in five years, these shows continued to rely largely on media figures and Republicans to dictate the conversation around global warming.

    In 2013, Broadcast Networks Increased Coverage But Remained Below 2009 Highs Media Offered Tepid Coverage Despite Major Report, Presidential Speech, And Scientific Milestone On Climate Change. In 2013, top international climate scientists released a major report on the state of climate science, following up on a 2007 report. The report found that the science on climate change has only gotten stronger during those six years, determining with 95 percent certainty that human activities are the "dominant cause" of global warming. Additionally, President Barack Obama delivered a major speech entirely focused on climate change, which former Vice President Al Gore hailed as the "best address on climate by any president ever." The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the most important heat-trapping gas driving climate change, also surpassed a long-feared milestone of 400 parts per million -- an amount never seen before in human history. And extreme weather events made more likely or worsened by climate change also drew widespread coverage, even as the climate connection was ignored: near-record floodwaters washed over the Midwest, devastating wildfires swept the western United States, and the worst cyclone to make landfall on record struck the Philippines, wiping out entire communities and killing thousands of people. Despite all this, broadcast news' climate coverage remained relatively low.

    Sunday Show Coverage Of Climate Change Picked Up, But Not By Much.

    The Sunday news shows devoted more airtime to discuss climate change in 2013 than in recent years, but it remained a paltry amount. Out of a year's worth of coverage, the Sunday shows focused on climate change for 27 minutes, the most aired since 2009. Not surprisingly, politics dominated 88 percent of these stories. Only one story, on CBS' Face The Nation, was driven by the scientific evidence linking some recent extreme weather to climate change.

    CBS' Face the Nation aired nearly 16 minutes of climate change-related coverage, almost twice as much as its nearest competitor, ABC's This Week.

    NBC's Meet the Press broadcast the least amount of coverage, failing to offer a single substantial mention of climate change in all of 2013. Fox News Sunday even aired more about climate change than Meet The Press, with nearly 4 minutes of politically-driven coverage.

    Network TV Evening News Broadcasts Reported On Climate Change More In 2013.

    Network TV newscasts aired more climate change coverage in 2013 over the previous year, when there was less than an hour of coverage for the whole year. Altogether, ABC, CBS and NBC reported on global warming for nearly an hour and 42 minutes during their nightly newscasts in 2013, compared to a combined total of less than an hour in all of 2012. The majority of this coverage -- 58 percent -- was driven by stories on climate change's relation to extreme weather or impacts on wildlife, while 19 percent was driven by scientific findings, another 19 percent by political stories related to climate change, and 4 percent by other stories.

    NBC Nightly News outpaced both ABC and CBS, airing roughly 52 minutes of climate change coverage, recovering from a lull in coverage in 2012.

    ABC World News nearly cut its climate change coverage in half in 2013 over the previous year, reporting on this issue for less than 10 minutes.

    Overall, Network TV News Outlets Ramped Up Climate Change Coverage In 2013.

    CBS aired 56 minutes of coverage on the topic in 2013, slightly more than NBC's nearly 52 total minutes of coverage and far greater than the 18 minutes of coverage that ABC devoted to climate change.

    Sunday Shows Finally Interviewed Scientists About Climate Change, But Still Skewed Toward Media Figures And Republican Politicians

    For The First Time In Five Years, A Sunday Show Invited Scientists To Talk About Climate Change.

    Before this year, Sunday show hosts did not interview a single scientist about climate change when discussing the issue on their shows. In 2013, that trend narrowly came to an end when, in a single episode of CBS' Face the Nation, the chief climatologist at Climate Central, Heidi Cullen, illustrated how rising temperatures have already affected weather extremes, and what would happen if climate change continues to worsen. In that segment CBS also interviewed Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, the head of the American Meteorological Society, who was counted as a scientist in our study due to his Ph.D. in Meteorology. No other Sunday show hosted a scientist to discuss climate change. [Climate Central, 5/28/13]

    Nightly news shows were much more likely to host scientists.

    In 2013, almost 54 percent of guests were scientists. However, this was a decrease from 2012. CBS Evening News also falsely balanced a scientist with the "skeptic" Global Warming Policy Foundation's Benny Peiser, who has no degree in science.

    Media Figures And Republicans Dominated Sunday Show Coverage Of Climate Change.

    On the rare occasions when Sunday shows focused on climate change, they were still unlikely to talk to scientists. Of those guests who did appear on the Sunday shows to talk about global warming, 43 percent were media figures and another 29 percent were politicians. Among the politicians who came onto the Sunday shows to inform the public about climate change, three-quarters of them were Republican.

    Methodology

    This report analyzes coverage of "climate change" or "global warming" between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, on four Sunday morning talk shows (ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday) and three nightly news programs (ABC World News,CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News). Fox Broadcasting Co. airs Fox News Sunday, but does not air a nightly news equivalent; Fox News is a separate cable channel. Our analysis includes any segment devoted to climate change, as well as any substantial mention (more than one paragraph of a news transcript and/or or a definitive statement about climate change). Timestamps were acquired from Media Matters' internal video archive and the Internet Archive online database and were applied generously. For instance, if a segment about an extreme weather event mentioned climate change briefly, the entire segment was counted as climate coverage. For those segments not available in our archive, we estimated the length of the segment based on its word count.

    QUICK NEWS, January 29: STATE OF THE UNION 2014 EXCERPT – THE PRES ON SOLAR AND CLIMATE; THE BENEFITS OF WIND; THE JOBS IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY

    STATE OF THE UNION 2014 EXCERPT– THE PRES ON SOLAR AND CLIMATE State of the Union: Text of Obama's address

    January 28, 2014 (San Jose Mercury News)

    “…It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too. Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

    “And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

    “Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did…” click here for more

    THE BENEFITS OF WIND Report: Wind Energy Yields Major Environmental Benefits For New Hampshire

    January 21, 2014 (North American Windpower)

    “Existing wind energy production in New Hampshire is providing significant environmental benefits for the state, according to a new report released by Environment New Hampshire…New Hampshire's wind energy is avoiding more than 157,267 metric tons of carbon pollution, the equivalent of taking 32,764 cars off the road, while it also saves 70,265,000 gallons of water per year, enough to meet the needs of 2,567 people…[W]ind energy in the state is [also] avoiding 148 tons of nitrogen oxides and 183 tons of sulfur dioxide…” click here for more

    THE JOBS IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY Proving Energy Efficiency Creates Jobs: Seeking A New Standard Method

    Casey bell, January 22, 2014 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    “…The stronger the evidence that energy efficiency programs and polices create economic opportunity and jobs, the greater the likelihood that federal, state, and local governments will support them. Managers of existing programs use a variety of methods to monitor and evaluate their job creation impacts…The problem is that we do not know the best way to verify how many jobs have been created by a particular energy efficiency policy or program…The underlying economic argument for energy efficiency job creation, through both the initial investment in energy efficient measures and through resources shifted to labor intensive sectors of the economy made possible by energy savings, is compelling. However, the lack of a standardized, generally-accepted method of verification is problematic…ACEEE, with the support of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, DC Sustainable Energy Utility, and Efficiency Vermont, is launching a project with the goal of addressing this issue…” click here for more

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE U.S. MONEY WASTED BURNING COAL

    Despite Drop in Coal Use, Most States Remain Dependent on Coal Imports, Draining Billions from Local Economies

    January 14, 2014 (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Union of Concerned Scientists)

    The nation is using less coal to produce electricity, but many states are still heavily dependent on it–and for them, the cost of importing coal from other states and even some foreign countries continues to be a drain on local economies, according to [Burning Coal, Burning Cash: Ranking the States That Import the Most Coal, 2014 Update] from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Consumers in those states would be better served if more money were spent in state on local renewable energy development and energy efficiency measures.

    Thirty-seven states were net importers of coal in 2012 (the most recent data available), paying a total of $19.4 billion to import 433 million tons of coal from other states and nations. Of these states, eight spent more than $1 billion each on net coal imports. Sixty percent of domestic coal comes from just three states (Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky), while foreign coal burned in U.S. coal plants mainly comes from Colombia.

    “Power providers in many states are taking billions of dollars out of their local economies to send across state lines and, in some cases, overseas,” said Jeff Deyette, assistant director of energy research at UCS. “This money can be better spent on investments in homegrown clean energy sources, which keep more money in these states and helps support local economies.”

    The new analysis is a follow up to UCS’ 2010 “Burning Coal, Burning Cash” report that ranked states’ expenditures on coal imports using 2008 data. The report released today ranks states based on 2012 data. Texas tops the new ranking list, having spent $1.85 billion on out-of-state coal. Rounding out the top 10 states most dependent on coal imports (in ranked order) are North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri,Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

    The analysis found that coal generation and coal imports have declined overall in the country. Between 2008 and 2012, expenditures on net coal imports fell by nearly a quarter, from $25.7 billion to $19.4 billion. Expenditures on coal imports from other countries dropped by 75 percent – from 16 states spending $1.8 billion in 2008, to seven states spending $464 million in 2012.

    “Ohio’s shift away from coal imports is one of the most dramatic, with a 67 percent drop between 2008 and 2012. As a result, the state fell from fifth to sixteenth place,” said Deyette. “Georgia fell from first place to third, due to a 36 percent reduction in spending on coal imports.”

    This decline in imports comes as more and more utilities are switching off their coal-fired power generators in favor of more competitive natural gas and renewable energy. Coal-fired electricity fell from almost half of the U.S. power mix in 2008 to 37 percent in 2012, as generators that provided nearly 24 gigawatts of obsolete and economically uncompetitive coal-fired power capacity were retired. (UCS documented the declining economic viability of coal-fired power plants in a recent report, “Ripe for Retirement: An Economic Analysis of the U.S. Coal Fleet.”)

    While switching from coal to natural gas offers some near-term air quality and cost benefits, there is growing evidence that an overreliance on natural gas poses significant and complex risks to consumers, the economy and the climate.

    “Natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, but it does have a history of price volatility and, as a fossil fuel, is not a sufficient long-term solution to the climate change crisis,” said Deyette. “A better solution would be to replace more coal generation with renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

    The changing economics of coal, combined with pending federal standards for carbon emissions from new and existing power plants, will go far to spur the transition to a clean energy economy, but to make the full transition we need strong renewable electricity and efficiency standards, tax incentives, and improved planning and development of the power grid.

    “Cutting coal imports by developing local renewable energy sources and instituting energy efficiency programs would boost state economies, reduce electricity price volatility, and cut global warming emissions,” said Deyette. “The time is ripe to invest in innovative clean energy technologies close to home.”

    QUICK NEWS, January 28: BIG LEGAL WIN FOR U.S. OCEAN WIND; SOLAR MAKERS GETTING BACK ON THEIR FEET; WIND CAN STABILIZE THE GRID

    BIG LEGAL WIN FOR U.S. OCEAN WIND Cape Wind Hails Legal Victory Over Persistent Project Opponents

    January 23, 2014 (North American Windpower)

    “…[Cape Wind has defeated] legal efforts of opponents to block its 468 MW offshore wind project, proposed off the coast of Nantucket Island…[T]he U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) approval of the Cape Wind project. Cape Wind says this represents a significant decision that rejects every argument that had been advanced by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and the Town of Barnstable [and their backer coal billionaire Bill Koch]…[Cape Wind’s victory] came as the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and Town of Barnstable filed a new federal lawsuit…[questioning] Cape Wind’s power purchase agreement with utility company NSTAR.” click here for more

    SOLAR MAKERS GETTING BACK ON THEIR FEET Tier 1 Solar PV Module Margin Recovery: How Long will it Last?

    Michael Barker, January 21, 2014 (SolarBuzz)

    “During the past few years, the upstream (or manufacturing) segment of the PV industry value-chain took a big hit in terms of revenues and profitability. Due to component over-supply, solar PV prices fell by double digits during 2012, with c-Si modules seeing an annual decline of over 40%...During 2013, the industry situation began to improve as uncompetitive capacity was shuttered and Tier 1 manufacturers focused on cost reduction, supply-chain flexibility, and shipment growth. Assisted by the stabilization in module ASPs, at the end of 2013 there was a rebound in both margins and market-share for Tier 1 c-Si manufacturers…With the PV industry now poised for strong demand growth in 2014, most Tier 1 module manufacturers are anticipating continued improvements. However, risk remains…” click here for more

    WIND CAN STABILIZE THE GRID NREL Finds Wind Turbines Can Boost Grid System Readiness

    January 22, 2014 (ReNew Grid)

    "Wind energy technology can support and enhance the reliability of the U.S. power grid by controlling the active power output being placed onto the system, finds [Active Power Controls from Wind Power: Bridging the Gaps] from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The rest of the power system's resources have traditionally been adjusted around wind to support a reliable and efficient system; however, NREL says the research that led to its report challenges that concept…NREL says active power control helps balance load with generation at various times, avoiding erroneous power flows, involuntary load shedding, machine damage and the risk of potential blackouts…” click here for more

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: NO HARM TO PROPERTY VALUE FROM WIND PROJECTS -- NEW STUDY

    Relationship between Wind Turbines and Residential Property Values in Massachusetts

    Carol Atkinson-Palombo and Ben Hoen, January 9, 2014 (University of Connecticut and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    This study investigates a common concern of people who live near planned or operating wind developments: How might a home’s value be affected by the turbines? Previous studies on this topic, which have largely coalesced around non-significant findings, focused on rural settings. Wind facilities in urban locations could produce markedly different results. Nuisances from turbine noise and shadow flicker might be especially relevant in urban settings, where negative features, such as landfills or high voltage utility lines, have been shown to reduce home prices. To determine if wind turbines have a negative impact on property values in urban settings, this report analyzed more than 122,000 home sales, between 1998 and 2012, that occurred near the current or future location of 41 turbines in densely-populated Massachusetts communities. The term “urban” in this document includes both urban and suburban areas.

    The results of this study do not support the claim that wind turbines affect nearby home prices. Although the study found the effects from a variety of negative features (such as electricity transmission lines and major roads) and positive features (such as open space and beaches) generally accorded with previous studies, the study found no net effects due to the arrival of turbines in the sample’s communities.

    Weak evidence suggests that the announcement of the wind facilities had a modest adverse impact on home prices, but those effects were no longer apparent after turbine construction and eventual operation commenced. The analysis also showed no unique impact on the rate of home sales near wind turbines. These conclusions were the result of a variety of model and sample specifications detailed later in this report.

    Overview

    Wind power generation has grown rapidly in recent decades. In the United States, wind development centered initially on areas with relatively sparse populations in the Plains and West. Increasingly, however, wind development is occurring in more populous, urbanized areas, prompting additional concerns about the effects of wind turbine construction on residents in those areas.

    One important concern is the potential for wind turbines to create a “nuisance stigma”—due to turbine-related noise, shadow flicker, or both—that reduces the desirability and thus value of nearby homes. Government officials who are called on to address this issue need additional reliable research to inform regulatory decisions, especially for understudied populous urban areas. Our study helps meet this need by examining the relationship between home prices and wind facilities in densely-populated Massachusetts.

    A variety of methods can be used to explore the effects of wind turbines on home prices. Statistical analysis of home sales, using a hedonic model, is the most reliable methodology because it (a) uses actual housing market sales data rather than perceptions of potential impacts; (b) accounts for many of the other, potentially confounding, characteristics of the home, site, neighborhood and market; and (c) is flexible enough to allow a variety of potentially competing aspects of wind development and proximity to be tested simultaneously. Previous studies using this hedonic modeling method largely have agreed that post-construction home-price effects (i.e., changes in home prices after the construction of nearby wind turbines) are either relatively small or sporadic. A few studies that have used hedonic modeling, however, have suggested significant reductions in home prices after a nearby wind facility is announced but before it is built (i.e., post-announcement, pre-construction) owing to an “anticipation effect.” Previous research in this area has focused on relatively rural residential areas and larger wind facilities with significantly greater numbers of turbines.

    This previous research has done much to illuminate the effects of wind turbines on home prices, but a number of important knowledge gaps remain.

    Our study helps fill these gaps by exploring a large dataset of home sales occurring near wind turbine locations in Massachusetts. We analyze 122,198 arm’s-length single-family home sales, occurring between 1998 and 2012, within 5 miles of 41 wind turbines in Massachusetts. The home sales analyzed in this study occurred in one of four periods based on the development schedule of the nearby turbines (see Figure 2).2

    To estimate the effect proximity to turbines has on home sale prices, we employ a hedonic pricing model in combination with a suite of robustness tests that explore a variety of different model specifications and sample sets, organized around the following five research questions:

    Q1) Have wind facilities in Massachusetts been located in areas where average home prices were lower than prices in surrounding areas (i.e., a “pre-existing price differential”)?

    Q2) Are post-construction (i.e., after wind-facility construction) home price impacts evident in Massachusetts and how do Massachusetts results contrast with previous results estimated for more rural settings?

    Q3) Is there evidence of a post-announcement/pre-construction effect (i.e., an “anticipation effect”)?

    Q4) How do impacts near turbines compare to the impacts of amenities and disamenities also located in the study area, and how do they compare with previous findings?

    Q5) Is there evidence that houses near turbines that sold during the post-announcement and post-construction periods did so at lower rates (i.e., frequencies) than during the pre-announcement period?

    The study makes five major unique contributions:

    1. It uses the largest and most comprehensive dataset ever assembled for a study linking wind facilities to nearby home prices.

    2. It encompasses the largest range of home sale prices ever examined.

    3. It examines wind facilities in urban areas (with relatively high-priced homes), whereas previous analyses have focused on rural areas (with relatively low-priced homes).

    4. It largely focuses on wind facilities that contain fewer than three turbines, while previous studies have focused on large-scale wind facilities (i.e., wind farms).

    5. Our modeling approach controls for seven environmental amenities and disamenities in the study area, allowing the effect of wind facilities to be compared directly to the effects of these other factors.

    The models perform exceptionally well given the volatility in the housing market during the study period, with an adjusted-R2 of approximately 0.80 and highly statistically significant and appropriately signed controlling parameters (e.g., square feet, acres, and age of home at the time of sale). The amenity and disamenity variables (proximity to beaches, open space, electricity transmission lines, prisons, highways, major roads, and landfills) are significant in a large portion of the models and appropriately signed—indicating that the models discern a strong relationship between a home’s environment and its selling price—and generally accord with the results of previous studies. To test whether the results of the analysis would change if the model was specified in a different way, or run using a differently-specified dataset, we ran a suite of robustness tests. The results generated from the robustness tests changed very little, suggesting that our approach is not dependent on the model specification or the data selection.

    The results do not support the claim that wind turbines affect nearby home prices. Despite the consistency of statistical significance with the controlling variables, statistically significant results for the variables focusing on proximity to operating turbines are either too small or too sporadic to be apparent. Post-construction home prices within a half mile of a wind facility are 0.5% higher than they were more than 2 years before the facility was announced (after controlling for market inflation/deflation). This difference is not statistically significant. Post-announcement, pre-construction home prices within a half mile are 2.3% lower than their pre-announcement levels (after controlling for inflation/deflation), which is also a non-significant difference, though one of the robustness models suggests weak evidence that wind-facility announcement reduced home prices.

    An additional tangential, yet important, result of the analysis is the finding of a statistically significant “pre-existing price differential”: prices of homes that sold more than 2 years before a future nearby wind facility was announced were 5.1% lower than the prices of comparable homes farther away from the future wind location. This indicates that wind facilities in Massachusetts are associated with areas where land values are lower than the surrounding areas, and, importantly, this “pre-existing price differential” needs to be accounted for in order to correctly measure the “post construction” impact of the turbines. Finally, our analysis finds no evidence of a lower rate (i.e., frequency) of home sales near the turbines.

    As discussed in the literature review, the effects of wind turbines may be somewhat context specific. Nevertheless, the stability of the results across models and across subsets of the data, and the fact that they agree with the results of existing literature, suggests that the results may be generalizable to other U.S. communities, especially where wind facilities are located in more urban settings with relatively high-priced homes. These results should inform the debate on actual impacts to communities surrounding turbines. Additional research would augment the results of this study and previous studies, and our report concludes with recommendations for future work…

    Conclusion

    This study investigates a common concern of people who live near planned or operating wind developments: How might a home’s value be affected by the turbines? Previous studies on this topic, which have largely coalesced around non-significant findings, focused on rural settings. Wind facilities in urban locations could produce markedly different results. Nuisances from turbine noise and shadow flicker might be especially relevant in urban settings where other negative features, such as landfills or high voltage utility lines, have been shown to reduce home prices. To determine if wind turbines have a negative impact on property values in urban settings, this report analyzed more than 122,000 home sales, between 1998 and 2012, that occurred near the current or future location of 41 turbines in densely-populated Massachusetts.

    The results of this study do not support the claim that wind turbines affect nearby home prices. Although the study found the effects on home prices from a variety of negative features (such as electricity transmission lines, landfills, prisons and major roads) and positive features (such as open space and beaches) that accorded with previous studies, the study found no net effects due to the arrival of turbines in the sample’s communities. Weak evidence suggests that the announcement of the wind facilities had an adverse impact on home prices, but those effects were no longer apparent after turbine construction and eventual operation commenced. The analysis also showed no unique impact on the rate of home sales near wind turbines. These conclusions were the result a variety of model and sample specifications.

    Suggestions for Further Research

    Although our study is unparalleled in its methodological scope and dataset compared to the previous literature in the subject area, we recommend a number of areas for future work. Because much of the existing work on wind turbines has focused on rural areas—which is where most wind facilities have been built—there is no clear understanding of how residents would view the introduction of wind turbines in landscapes that are already more industrialized. Therefore, investigating residents’ perceptions, through survey instruments, of wind turbines in more urbanized settings may be helpful. Policy-makers may also be interested in understanding the environmental attitudes and perceptions towards wind turbines of people who purchase houses near wind turbines after they have been constructed. Also, our study has aggregated the effects of wind turbines on the price of single-family houses for the study area as a whole. Although the data span an enormous range of sales prices, and contain the highest mean value of homes yet studied, it might be fruitful to analyze impacts partitioned by sales price or neighborhood to discover whether the effects vary with changes in these factors.

    Finally, in our study we did not investigate the ownership structure of the turbines (i.e., in Massachusetts some projects benefit town budgets while others are owned by private entities) and assess whether any benefits accrued to surrounding communities, factors that the existing literature suggests are important determinants of community perceptions. This was considered beyond the scope of the existing study, but could be addressed in future research.

    QUICK NEWS, January 27: BOONE PICKENS BOOSTS IOWA WIND; THE FIGHT FOR SOLAR IN NORTH CAROLINA; CALIF SETS BAR HIGHER ON EFFICIENCY, DEMAND RESPONSE

    BOONE PICKENS BOOSTS IOWA WIND Another View: Wind's outlook remains strong; Developing natural gas and renewable energy are good for Iowa and the U.S.

    T. Boone Pickens, January 21, 2014 (Des Moines Register)

    “…In 2008, there were concerns that America’s supplies of natural gas were stretched thin…The Pickens Plan began with a call to increase alternative forms of energy generation…[Since then,] natural gas supplies [have] increased so dramatically that…[it] is the cheapest energy source in America, a reality that has hindered aggressive development of renewable energy in Iowa and elsewhere…[T]he same innovation and technology advances that have reshaped the domestic oil and natural gas landscape have also impacted the wind industry…[W]ind is the second-cheapest American power resource…[and] is becoming economically feasible again…[because of more] efficient turbines, better siting, the ability to tie into regional electric grids and other factors…Iowa may not have natural gas reserves, but 75 percent of the state is suitable to generate energy from wind…Developing natural gas for use in heavy-duty trucks and wind for electricity make a solid partnership…” click here for more

    THE FIGHT FOR SOLAR IN NORTH CAROLINA Largest Power Company in U.S. Joins ALEC in Plot Against One State’s Solar Revolution

    David Pomerantz, January 22, 2014 (EcoWatch)

    “The new hot spot for solar energy in the U.S. is North Carolina. The state was second in the nation in solar growth in 2013, behind only California…[and] if U.S. states were considered as countries, North Carolina would have been among the top 10 countries in the world for solar growth last year…[T]hat solar growth, driven by policies like the state’s renewable energy portfolio law, has been great for the North Carolina economy, generating $1.7 billion in revenue for the state…[and employing] 1,400 people in [2012. But] Duke Energy, the state’s monopoly utility and the largest power company in the country, is about to launch a major attack on…net metering, one of the key policies to North Carolina’s solar growth…Duke’s key ally…[is] the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC), a group that lets corporations like Duke ghostwrite laws for right-wing state legislators…” click here for more

    CALIF SETS BAR HIGHER ON EFFICIENCY, DEMAND RESPONSE California Aims to Increase Efficiency, Demand Response to Meet Need For Reliable, Low-Carbon Energy System; Report looks at how to replace energy from SONGS with preferred resources and address climate impact on grid while meeting 2030, 2050 climate goals

    January 15, 2014 (California Energy Commission)

    “To meet energy needs of a growing population and a recovering economy in the face of climate change and loss of power plants in Southern California, the state must find ways to significantly scale two preferred resources—energy efficiency and demand response—according to [the] 2013 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR)…It forecasts California's future energy supply and demand and [concludes the] urgency to scale-up demand response is high, if California is to maintain a reliable electric system, particularly in Southern California, in the absence of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), the retirement of power plants that use once-through-cooling, and the need for flexibility to integrate intermittent renewable resources…[and that] California must plan for how climate change is likely to compromise electricity supply and demand…” click here for more

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

    Neil Young Talks Tar Sands

    Rocker Neil Young boldly speaks out on the Canadian tar sands oil development: "It is the ugliest environmental disaster that I have ever seen..." On his claim that cancer is increasing in tar sands region Native Americans: "You can either believe me and the First Nations people or the oil companies and the Canadian government. And you have to look at the motivation..." From Q with Jian Ghomeshi via YouTube

    Solar Energy Is Only Eight Doublings Away

    According to futurist Ray Kurzweil, the solar singularity – the moment when solar takes over – is visible on the horizon. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    ALEC Exposed As The Baddest Lobbyist In Town

    Funded by the Koch brothers and other right-oriented money, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the most effective U.S. anti-renewables lobbying group. This explains why. Frpom MSNBC

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    CLIMATE CHANGE TO FORCE WINTER OLYMPICS CHANGES?

    Climate change threatens Winter Olympics; Only six of the previous Winter Olympics host cities will be cold enough to reliably host the Games by the end of this century if global warming projections prove accurate.

    January 23, 2014 (PhysOrg)

    “Even with conservative climate projections, only 11 of the previous 19 sites could host the Games in the coming decades, according to [The Future of the Winter Olympics in a Warming World] from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and Management Center Innsbruck (Austria)…The study finds that internationally renowned Olympic sites, such as Squaw Valley (USA), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany), Vancouver (Canada) and Sochi (Russia) would no longer have climates suitable to reliably host the Games by the middle of the 21st century. With additional warming projected for later decades of this century, as few as six former host locations would remain climatically suitable…[T]he average February daytime temperature of Winter Games locations has steadily increased – from 0.4°C at Games held in the 1920-50s, to 3.1°C in Games during the 1960-90s, and 7.8°C in Games held in the 21st century…The study found that the success of the Games is often partially attributed to favourable weather, while poor weather is highlighted as one of the greatest challenges…” click here for more

    EUROPE SEES ECONOMIC BOOM IN BLUE ENERGY

    EC ocean energy plan ‘could create 20,000 UK jobs’

    Frank Urquhart, 21 January 2014 (The Scotsman)

    “The European Commission has unveiled a new action plan for the fledgling renewable ocean energy sector in Europe, which could create up to 20,000 jobs in the UK in the next two decades…The drive to harness Europe’s ‘blue energy’ potential is to be led by the establishment of an Ocean Energy Forum, and Scotland’s Energy Minister…claimed that Scotland would have a major role to play in the Commission’s renewable energy initiative…A European Commission spokesman said…[o]cean energy has the potential to create [an estimated 10,500 - 26,500 new, high-quality permanent jobs and up to 14,000 temporary jobs by 2035, including 20,000 in the UK and 18,000 in France]…The term ‘ocean energy’ covers all technologies to harvest renewable energy from seas and oceans, except offshore wind…” click here for more

    INVESTING IN THE GLOBAL SOLAR POWER PLANT PIPELINE

    Can SunPower Sustain Its Growth In 2014?

    Marsha Robe, January 20, 2014 (Seeking Alpha)

    “Recently, Zacks reiterated SunPower's (SPWR) rating to outperform and categorized under Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) grade. JPMorgan Chase has also given an overweight rating…Both the ratings mirror the strong growth prospects of SunPower, which resulted in stock appreciation of 386% in 2013. After some temporary correction in November last year, the company looks all set to post another strong performance in 2014…Unlike its competitor, First Solar (FSLR), SunPower's customer segment is not only concentrated on utility-scale power plant customers, but also on commercial and residential customers…Lease revenue is only a small portion of SunPower's revenue, and the company is still far behind residential installer leader SolarCity (SCTY)…SunPower has built a strong project pipeline, especially in utility projects…[and] SunPower's utility projects have expanded beyond North America…” click here for more

    INDIA CAN TARGET 100% NEW ENERGY BY 2050

    Even India could reach nearly 100% renewables by 2051

    Emma Fitzpatrick, 17 Janaury 2014 (RENew Economy)

    “…[One] of the last economies imagined going fully renewable would be India, the rising economic giant that is still yet to connect several hundred million people to its mostly coal-fired grid, and is expected to have the highest growth of electricity consumption. But according to environmental group WWF, India could reach a goal of 100 per cent renewables by 2050...[A]ggressive energy efficiency improvements alone can bring in savings of up to 59 per cent (by both the supply and demand sides) by mid-century…Concentrated solar thermal technologies, many of which are currently still in the research and development phase, will take on a large chunk of the nation’s electricity needs as well as meeting thermal demand…Wind is also set to push India towards its 100 per cent goal…WWF predicts that [India] could have up to 170 GW [of offshore wind] installed by 2051…Rooftop PV is likely to play a major role in both rural and urban areas…” click here for more

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    HOW PRESIDENT OBAMA CAN ACT ON CLIMATE

    Report: Obama can advance climate agenda without Congress

    Laura Barron-Lopez, January 21, 2014 (The Hill)

    "Despite meeting fierce opposition from the GOP in 2013, a group of clean energy experts, business leaders and former government officials believe President Obama's climate agenda has been and will continue to be successful in the coming year…Obama could advance core measures in the battle against climate change with or without Congress, according to…Powering Forward: Presidential and Executive Agency Actions to Drive Clean Energy in America…[It] includes roughly 200 recommendations on how Obama can utilize his executive authority to push clean energy standards that are in line with the his climate plan…The five core areas the report focuses on are energy productivity, financing renewable energy, responsible natural gas production, developing alternative fuels and vehicles, and helping electric and gas utilities to adapt…” click here for more

    THE DOMINANCE OF THE TOP TEN U.S. SOLAR STATES

    Top 10 US States Offer More than 40GW of Solar PV Pipeline Capacity

    Michael Barker, January 14, 2014 (SolarBuzz)

    “At the end of 2013, based on annual market demand, the top 10 states for solar PV in the US had an aggregate project pipeline of approximately 2,000 non-residential projects. This represents almost 40GW of potential PV capacity…Project pipelines provide significant insight into individual projects, but also help understand market structures, business models, and future demand levels…[California dominates] with over 60% of capacity…States with smaller pipeline levels may be in danger of declining Y/Y…[but] the pipeline relates only to non-residential (commercial/utility) solar PV installations. Therefore, states that have strong residential segments, such as Hawaii, may have smaller non-residential pipeline capacity but retain strong PV ranking status by virtue of residential activity…” click here for more

    TOTAL 2013 WIND MONEY UP TO $28.1BIL, VC MONEY TO $455MIL

    Wind Sector VC Funding Reaches $455 Million in 2013, Project Funding $18.1 Billion; Strong IPO activity in wind sector in 2013

    January 21, 2014 (Mercom Capital Group)

    “…Global venture capital (VC) funding in the wind sector increased to $455 million in 2013 compared to $315 million in 2012. Total funding into the wind sector reached $28.1 billion in 2013, including VC funding, public market financings, debt financings and announced project funding deals. VC funding in Q4 2013 came to $93 million in six deals compared to $135 million in four deals the previous quarter…There were seven downstream companies that raised a combined $374.3 million in 2013…The top VC funded company in 2013 was ReNew Power, an Indian wind project developer, which raised $135 million…Public market financings accounted for $5.8 billion in 17 deals in 2013 including six IPOs totaling $2.3 billion…Announced large-scale project funding in 2013 amounted to $18.1 billion in 114 deals, compared to $14 billion in 72 deals in 2012…” click here for more

    BIG FREEZE DROVE BIG BUCKS TO NAT GAS

    How The Polar Vortex Impacted Energy Prices, Grid Reliability

    January 16, 2014 (North American Windpower)

    “For the second time in just over three years, a major weather event…generated significant profits for generators, particularly in the eastern and southern U.S. Wholesale power price increases were caused by…high and fluctuating delivered natural gas pricing, generation supply shortages, and differing market structures. Changing weather patterns will accelerate the number and size of these opportunities for investors…[W]eather patterns are also revealing potential reliability risks…Daily average power prices fluctuated wildly from $40/MWh to nearly $800/MWh…Natural gas prices in New England and eastern New York reached record highs on Jan. 7, with midpoint prices ranging from $35/ MMBtu and $40/MMBtu and bids as high as $100/MMBtu…In many markets, the increase in delivered natural gas prices was a key contributor to the increase in power prices…[but in ERCOT] gas prices did not increase while power prices increased dramatically…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE $2BIL NEW ENERGY OPPORTUNITY IN REMOTE CALIFORNIA

    Salton Sea Revenue Potential Study Final

    December 10, 2013 (EES Consulting for the Imperial Irrigation District)

    Executive Summary

    Imperial Irrigation District (IID) has asked EES Consulting (EES) to develop a feasibility study for revenue potential from land leases in the Imperial Valley for renewable energy projects. IID is interested in helping to develop renewable energy resources in the Salton Sea area that would partially fund the restoration of the Salton Sea. IID has asked EES to estimate the revenue potential available to help fund the Salton Sea Projects. Initially, IID would like to know if there is enough economic potential in the Imperial Valley at the Salton Sea to substantially help fund Salton Sea restoration projects. This report reviews renewable project potential and provides a conceptual analysis of the revenue potential available both to IID and to fund the Salton Sea Projects.

    This report evaluates the following revenue sources:

     Unit, $/MWh, charge on renewable energy development

     Mining rights and associated royalties

     Algae-based products and associated royalties

     Transmission ownership rate of return

     Falling water charge at Hoover Dam

    Each of these revenue sources are described below.

    Revenue Potential Analysis

    Renewable Energy

    First, renewable resource potential is estimated based on previous work completed for IID regarding geothermal resource assessments, interviews with industry experts and EES’ experience in renewable project development. The costs of renewable resource projects are estimated and compared with publicly available forecasts of renewable energy prices in California. The revenue potential is the difference between renewable energy price forecasts and Salton Sea renewable resource costs.

    Three types of renewable resources are evaluated including thermal gradient ponds, solar, and geothermal. Thermal gradient ponds were found to be useful for environmental mitigation and industrial power purposes; however, these resources were not included in the revenue potential estimates.

    Solar Development

    Solar resources are available in the Imperial Valley. Currently, these resources are being sited on agricultural land which may have potential negative effects on the local economy. Solar resource development is expected to be constrained by transmission, land issues, and the lower cost of development in other locations. Lands near the Salton Sea may not be desirable for photovoltaic or concentrated solar power generation due to the impact of ambient conditions on solar components. Additional evaluation of the suitability of solar energy located on playa areas is in the planning stages and may further inform the viability of solar energy in these areas. Until those studies are completed it is difficult to accurately project solar revenue.

    Therefore, this study conservatively estimates revenue potential of $150 million over the study period from 1,000 MW of solar resources.

    Geothermal Development

    Finally, the study concludes that significant geothermal resources are available at the South end of the Salton Sea. As the Salton Sea recedes over the study period, prime geothermal sites are exposed. The resource development costs are estimated assuming economies of scale and a development schedule is estimated based on streamlined permitting processes and assumed recession rate of the Salton Sea. This study estimates that approximately 2,000 MW (15,000 GWh) of geothermal resources are available over the study period 2016 through 2045. The levelized cost of energy for these resources are estimated to range from $90/MWh to $120/MWh depending on resource type (high temperature, or lower temperature gradients) and location (onshore or offshore).

    Renewable Energy Prices

    Because renewable energy prices are dependent on several factors that vary over time, four forecasts are reviewed for this analysis:

    • Current Market – the Current Market forecast was developed based on the 2012 expenditures of three California investor-owned utilities for geothermal contracts as published annually in the California Public Utility Commission’s (CPUC) Padilla report.

    • RFP – The RFP forecast is based on the price cap set in Southern California Public Power Authority’s (SCPPA) renewable energy request for proposals (RFP). The bundled price of $82.10/MWh for 2012 was escalated at the rate of inflation (1.5 percent).

    • Market – The Market forecast is based on projected levelized costs for merchant flash geothermal plants estimated by the California Energy Commission (CEC). The average nominal levelized cost for the 2009 and 2018 in-service dates are $78.91 and $120.72/MWh respectively. The average increase is 4.8 percent annually. This increase appears to be high based on information in the Padilla report. Therefore, the Market forecast was developed by using the escalating $120.72/MWh in 2018 at the assumed rate of inflation for this study (2 percent).

    • Break-Even – The break-even price forecast was developed to show the prices needed in order for the proposed geothermal projects to produce enough revenue such that the total geothermal based revenue estimated in this report is $2 billion over the study period. Note that the break-even price is not required for geothermal projects to be economic.

    The RFP and Current Market forecasts represent the lowest expected renewable energy prices.

    It is more likely that renewable energy costs will increase as base load energy is required to meet California’s renewable portfolio standards (RPS). Current RPS will require 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. A proposed bill (AB 177) could increase the RPS requirement to 51 percent by 2030. The revenue potential estimates in this report assume the break-even renewable energy price. As noted above, the estimated revenue under this price is $2 billion over the study period. Note that the break-even price does not include the value of renewable base load generation. Estimated geothermal resource costs developed in this study range from $89/MWh to $118/MWh in levelized terms (without any base load credit).

    Mineral Recovery

    Mineral recovery is possible in conjunction with the development of geothermal projects.

    Specifically, minerals such as manganese and lithium may be extracted from the geothermal brines. Revenues from mining royalties are estimated based on high-level gross revenue estimates provided in a draft report developed for IID.

    Algae Product Royalties

    These royalties are included in the revenue potential for Salton Sea restoration projects. The mining royalties are estimated at $1.5 billion over the period 2016 through 2045.

    The business of growing algae to produce fuel has made significant progress in recent years.

    The process utilizes enhanced or genetically altered algae to produce various oil products ranging from fuel oils to cooking oils. Specifically, the production of ethanol is the target of some of the leading companies. The cultivation of algae for fuel production can require large volumes of water varying from 3 to 3,000 times the volume of oil produced. However, the water quality can be saline, wastewater/non potable, or recycled water. In addition, algae cultivation requires nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Given the receding Salton Sea, algae production could be an alternative to exposed playa. Estimated revenues from royalties on algae-based products are over $260 million for the study period.

    Transmission Ownership

    In order to provide transmission services to and from the proposed renewable energy projects, a new transmission line will need to be built in the Imperial Valley. As a part-owner, IID would receive a return on investment for its ownership share of the transmission line. IID has suggested that half of IID’s return be allocated to Salton Sea Projects. The Salton Sea project revenues from IID’s transmission ownership are estimated at $42 million over the study period.

    Falling Water Charge

    In addition to the revenue collected through Salton Sea royalties, IID asked EES to develop an analysis of a falling water charge for the Hoover Dam. The falling water charge is a charge in dollars per megawatt hour (MWh) of output produced by the Hoover Dam. Proposed falling water charges are compared to current wholesale rates of electricity at Hoover Dam to determine rate impacts. Revenue collected from the proposed charge would be used to help fund Salton Sea rehabilitation and restoration projects. Figure 3 shows the estimated revenues for various falling water charges. The revenue potential estimates in this report assume the falling water charge is $1/MWh.

    The primary sources of revenue from renewable energy development are from geothermal resource development and mineral royalties. The revenue potential estimate from geothermal project development is sensitive to the renewable energy price or the value of an integration credit.

    Conclusion

    The break-even renewable energy price is a reasonably attainable forecast; therefore, it may be possible to reach the $2 billion revenue goal over the period. The following requirements are needed for geothermal projects to meet the $2 billion revenue goal:

     Geothermal resource costs are estimated to range from $89/MWh to $118/MWh depending on resource type and location. At current renewable energy prices (RFP price forecast), an integration credit of $18/MWh is required in order for the high temperature, offshore Salton Sea geothermal projects to be economic.

     Given the break-even value of renewable energy $113.89/MWh, a $/MWh charge could be placed on all geothermal output estimated based on the development schedule. Figure 5 shows the projected revenue provided a range of $/MWh charges.

     A 500 kV transmission line must be financed by a third party and the CPUC must allow recovery of costs through rates.

     Blanket permitting for geothermal projects approved by state.

     State provides assistance to Salton Sea geothermal resource development through RPS or financing incentives. These financing incentives could be a loan guarantee program similar to the current Department of Energy loan guarantee program. These incentives are necessary in order for developers to take on geothermal development risk and be able to pay Salton Sea Project charges/royalties.

    Based on the analysis, there is significant revenue potential available for Salton Sea restoration and rehabilitation projects. If IID pursues renewable project development in the Salton Sea area, and obtains support from the State of California, the proposed projects could become increasingly economic.

    Action Plan

    Based on the study conclusions the following actions are recommended to IID:

     Meet with State of California Officials and Regulating Agencies (CPUC, CEC, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, etc) in order to:

    o Expedite the transmission line investment/construction.

    o Obtain state guaranteed loans or state funds set aside for geothermal project developer access to capital and long term financing.

    o Indentify permitting issues and responsible agencies. Seek blanket permits for multiple geothermal project developments located near or under the existing Salton Sea.

    o Through the CPUC or CEC, modify California renewable portfolio standards to provide incentives for Salton Sea renewable development or to require utilities to purchase Salton Sea project output.

    o Meet with CPUC, CEC, utilities and other government agencies to clarify costs and include value adder to base load renewable energy projects.

    o Implement the pilot project to evaluate solar energy facilities located on Salton Sea playa areas.

     Initial Development Activities

    o Perform transmission study for 500 KV line to finalize route, right of way issues, capacity and cost. Identify potential line developers and financing parties. Prepare study report on ownership and operation structure.

    o Meet with geothermal developers to discuss interest in developing Salton Sea resources, technical, permitting and financing issues and leasing requirements.

    o Prepare an environmental study to identify permitting issues and options. Initiate discussions with permitting agencies (U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, State and County Agencies, etc) and stakeholders (local tribes) to mitigate the impact of geothermal development and further improve the environment around the Salton Sea.

    o Prepare financing studies and planning documents.

     Funding For 2013-2014

    o Initial studies estimated to cost $0.5 to 1.0 million

    o Legal, consultants and additional staffing $500,000